Divided We Stand: Allies Debate the Two-State Solution

Separation wall between Israel and the West Bank near Jerusalem. (photo: Mazur Travel via Shutterstock)
Please join our brothers and sisters at New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) for a livestreamed debate over the future resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Participants in the discussion will feature Peter Beinart, Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.
Date: Friday, July 24, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm Eastern Time / 10:00am Pacific Time
Location: Online Event
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Zoom registration
Event Details

The event will feature Jewish Currents Editor-at-Large Peter Beinart, author of a recent essay arguing that the two-state solution is obsolete, in discussion with Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.

Peter Beinart is professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, Editor-at-Large of Jewish Currents, an Atlantic and CNN contributor and a fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the President of J Street, bringing to the role both deep experience in American politics and government and a passionate commitment to the state of Israel.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of T’ruah. Formally, she was a Rabbi-in Residence at Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), a national public foundation dedicated to mobilizing the resources of American Jews to combat the root causes of domestic social and economic injustice.

More information here →

‘People are waking up’: 50 arrested in anti-Netanyahu protests

A police water cannon douses dozens of protesters in central Jerusalem during clashes that followed a mass demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence, July 14, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
A police water cannon douses dozens of protesters in central Jerusalem during clashes that followed a mass demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, July 14, 2020. (photo: Oren Ziv)
A protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned into a chaotic and historic night, during which Israeli-Jewish leftists turned their anger on the police.

By Oren Ziv  | +972  | July 15, 2020

…it became apparent that while the organizers of the protest have been reticent regarding tying the recent anti-Netanyahu protests to other struggles in Israel-Palestine, the demonstrators were far more open to more radical messaging, including about resisting the occupation and police brutality.

The organizers of Tuesday night’s “Siege on Balfour” protest, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, never expected the latest demonstration against Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption to turn into full-blown clashes with the police that would last into the early hours of the morning. It is hard to imagine that anyone thought 50 people would be arrested.

After all, protests by Israel’s Jewish left over the past few decades have typically been relatively calm — no burning trash cans or water cannons dousing demonstrators. But on “Bastille Day in Balfour,” all that changed.

Continue reading “‘People are waking up’: 50 arrested in anti-Netanyahu protests”

Rita Zawaideh 2020 “Spirit of Liberty” Award


Rita Zawaideh
The Ethnic Heritage Council of the Pacific Northwest has recognized the work of Rita Zawaideh for her significant contribution to her ethnic community and ethnic heritage, as well as to the community at large.

By Ethnic Heritage Council | July 16, 2020

She is a ‘one-person community information center for the Arab community,’
— Huda Giddens

For decades, Rita Zawaideh has been an advocate and change-maker on behalf of Middle Eastern and North African communities in the United States and around the world. She is a “one-person community information center for the Arab community,” according to the thousands who have benefited from her activism and philanthropy. “The door to Rita’s Fremont office is always open,” says Huda Giddens of Seattle’s Palestinian community, adding that Rita’s strength is her ability to see a need and answer it. “She doesn’t leave a stone unturned in search of a solution,” says Giddens.

Rita was born in Jordan and grew up in Seattle. Through the years she has maintained close ties to the Arab world, as well as to the Arab-American communities throughout the U.S. She founded the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) to raise awareness of Arab American cultures and provide support to refugees and immigrants both locally and internationally. Rita is owner and founder of Caravan-Serai Tours, a Seattle travel agency specializing in the Middle East and North Africa. Through her travel agency network she has organized volunteer trips and donation drives for refugees in the Middle East and North Africa since the 1980s. She often labors into the wee hours of the night to solve a person’s problem, putting that person in touch with a lawyer, a city council member, a school principal, a church contact, perhaps even someone who lives on the other side of the country. No one is turned away.

Continue reading “Rita Zawaideh 2020 “Spirit of Liberty” Award”

Edward Said and the ‘rendezvous of victory’

Edward Said
Edward Said
Palestinians find inspiration in the first anti-apartheid movement and other struggles against settler colonialism in their call for BDS and secular democracy in historic Palestine.

By Haidar Eid | Mondoweiss | July 15, 2020

I was inspired by Edward Said because I belong to a generation that did not witness the Nakba. I am part of a generation that was thought to be resigned to more than 50 years of military occupation, and more than 70 years of dispossession and apartheid.

Since the beginning of the formation of his political consciousness in 1967, Edward Said emerged as the world’s most significant moral intellectual since Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russel. As professor of literature and literary criticism and spiritual figurehead of the Palestinian cultural landscape, together with Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, and countless others, he was instrumental in making Palestine one of the predominant moral causes of our time. His dedication to fundamental Palestinian human rights elevated him to a status of icon and inspiration.

After the official leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the infamous Oslo Accords in 1993, Said began to argue that it was high time that the Palestinian people moved away from the illusion of the two-state solution and advocate a democratic approach, one that could guarantee their basic rights, namely freedom, equality, and justice.

Continue reading “Edward Said and the ‘rendezvous of victory’”

We’re fighting the same battle everywhere

A man paints a mural on a wall in Gaza
Ayman al-Hasari paints a mural of George Floyd on a wall in Gaza City in a message against racist discrimination and police brutality. (photo: Ahmad Hasaballah / IMAGESLIVE)
Systemic discrimination, settler-colonialism and inequality lie at the heart of a global struggle.

By Adam Mahoney | The Electronic Intifada |  July 15, 2020

Then, a 17-year-old student asked me: Is it really as hard being Black in America, as they make it seem?

It took less than a week for me to become accustomed to daily interactions with Israeli soldiers carrying guns. It scared me. So did the number of Make America Great Again hats on people walking the streets of the Holy Land.

I had been traveling throughout occupied Palestine for several days on a student reporting trip facilitated by my school, Northwestern University, when a student’s question led to weeks of reflection.

This particular day, I was sitting in a high school classroom in the Ein Mahel local council in northern Israel. The day was focused on understanding the experience of Israel’s indigenous Palestinian minority. I was just excited for the chance to speak with young folks about their experiences growing up in the most heavily contested region in the world.

Continue reading “We’re fighting the same battle everywhere”

The U.S. struggle for justice for Palestine begins a new chapter

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, July 1 - Several thousand Palestinians and supporters rallied in the Palestinian-American neighborhood of Bay Ridge, then marched four miles north to the Barclays Center, to oppose threats by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. (Photo by Joe Catron)
Brooklyn, NY, July 1 – Several thousand Palestinians and supporters rallied in the Palestinian-American neighborhood of Bay Ridge, then marched four miles north to the Barclays Center, to oppose threats by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. (photo by Joe Catron)
The progress and victories of recent years absolutely are a cause for celebration. But it is important to keep in mind that the fight is far from over.

By Ariel Gold and Mary Miller  | Mondoweiss | July 14, 2020

…we must recognize that the change happening now cannot be credited to any one action, individual, or organization. Rather, it is the culmination of countless efforts and the work of several groups.

2020 has indisputably been a chaotic year. From the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent disruption of daily life, to the killing of George Floyd and the passionate resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement that followed, to the looming general election: there has been plenty occupying the minds and newsfeeds of Americans. But in between all the headline-grabbing stories, another movement has been gaining traction: the effort to end the United States’ support for Israeli apartheid and finally bring peace and justice to the Palestinian people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to announce plans to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1. That date has come and gone, and still no formal announcement has been made. But what is perhaps most noteworthy about this incident isn’t that Netanyahu almost moved from de facto to de jour annexation of the West Bank, but that the response from influential members of Congress made it clear that, should Israel plan to move forward with annexation, it would not go without consequence.

Continue reading “The U.S. struggle for justice for Palestine begins a new chapter”

Palestinian perspectives on the future

(photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Shutterstock.com)
A collaboration between The Elders and The Carter Center highlight the plight of youth who were born after Oslo Accords and who have seen three Gaza wars and no change in leadership since being born.

By Jane Kinninmont | The Elders | July 1, 2020

Policymakers working on this area need to be aware of the significant generational change that has taken place since the Oslo paradigm was established.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, traditionally seen as the central conflict in the Middle East, had dropped down the international policy agenda in recent years as progress seemed impossible and as other regional conflicts became far more violent. This year, however, the US president’s “vision for peace”, which largely adopts Israeli positions on the core conflict issues, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s related announcement that he would annex large parts of the occupied West Bank from July this year, have refocused international attention on the conflict and occupation.

In recent weeks there has been worldwide mobilization against annexation, uniting a disparate set of Jewish diaspora groups and scholars, former Israeli security officials, church leaders, US Democrats, European policymakers, and current and former world leaders, including Arab countries who want peace with Israel and see this as a potential dealbreaker. Trump’s rival in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, has said that annexation would “choke off” any hopes of peace. The international community is throwing its weight behind the idea of the two-state solution with an energy and commitment not seen for years. But can it find a constructive and realistic path to deliver two states?

Continue reading “Palestinian perspectives on the future”

The great Palestinian silence

Palestinians look down on the destroyed house of a Hamas militant after an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, 2 January 2009
Palestinians look down on the destroyed house of a Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip. Israel lobbied Australia to argue the ICC should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine. (photo: Hatem Moussa / AP)
Palestinian Australian activists put out a statement expressing collective solidarity with Palestinians and are met with censoring by silence from mainstream Australian media.

By Randa Abdel-Fattah |  MeanJin Quarterly | July 10, 2020

What does anti-racism as practice—not a timeline of online platitudes and curated bursts of outrage—actually mean to the many academics, artists and public figures who are vocal about fighting settler colonial and racist violence, but scatter in the dust when anyone mentions Palestine?

It seems everyone is tweeting about freedom of speech. So let me tell you a story about freedom of speech and the exceptional case of Palestine.

In the days leading up to Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank, and in the shadow of Australia being one of only two countries to vote against a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning the illegal annexation of significant parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank by Israel, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed. I wondered why those who profess to care about racism, oppression and injustice rarely dare to tether their politics to Palestine. I can name countless public figures, public intellectuals, academics, artists and activists who have been rightly vocal about a long list of global human rights violations and social and racial justice struggles but have never once spoken up in defence of the rights of Palestinians.

In his ground-breaking book Silencing the Past, Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues that the West’s failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution—the most successful slave revolt in history—‘shows us that history is not simply the recording of facts and events, but a process of actively enforced silences, some unconscious, others quite deliberate’.

Continue reading “The great Palestinian silence”

Nonviolence International Statement on Annexation

Palestinians in Gaza City demonstrated Wednesday against Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Palestinians in Gaza City demonstrated against Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank. (photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA, via Shutterstock)
A pledge to relentlessly push for equal rights and dignity and a call for the world to say no to oppression and injustice.

By Mubarak Awad, Jonathan Kuttab, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, and Peter Weinberger | Nonviolence International | July 2, 2020

‘For the rest of the world, the annexation, large or small is a wakeup call to recognize the illegal actions of Israel in the occupied territories and the need to take active, not just verbal steps to address it. Israeli impunity only encourages further illegalities.’
—Mohammed Abu-Nimer, NVI Board Member

Unilateral annexation of portions of the West Bank by Israel is a path of oppression and injustice. The whole world must say no.

There are two major arguments against annexation from the Jordan Valley or near Jerusalem:

The first is that it basically violates the bedrock of international law, which holds that you cannot annex territory that comes into your possession as a result of war.  After WWII, with the creation of the United Nations, 75 years ago, the international community cannot tolerate “border adjustments” taken unilaterally no matter what the justification.  There are 194 countries in the world, and most of them have historical, tribal, economic, or security interests in taking portions of land from their neighbours.  If that is allowed, there would be chaos in the international community.  That is why the few attempts made (Turkey in Cyprus, Morocco in Western Sahara, Iraq in Kuwait, and Russia in Georgia, and Ukraine; and now Israel in Jerusalem, the Golan and the West Bank) have been roundly condemned.  It is unfortunate that the current US administration is so contemptuous of international law and the international community that it would allow such an outrage.

Continue reading “Nonviolence International Statement on Annexation”

Senate Dems introduce amendment that would block Israel from using U.S. funds for annexation

US Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, with Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Wisconsin Democrat, right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, June 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, with Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Wisconsin Democrat, right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, June 16, 2020, in Washington. (photo / AP/ Manuel Balce Ceneta)
U.S. legislative efforts continue to discourage annexation while still showing support for Israel.

By Michael Arria | Mondoweiss | July 6, 2020

‘I do not think American dollars should be aiding and abetting the unilateral annexation of territory.’
—Senator Chris Van Hollen (MD)

12 Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would prohibit Israel from using U.S. military aid to annex portions of the West Bank.

S. 4049 was filed an amendment to 2021’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020, this Act, or any other Act enacted before the date of the enactment of this Act, or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense, may be obligated or expended to deploy, or support the deployment of, United States defense articles, services, or training to territories in the West Bank unilaterally annexed by Israel after July 1, 2020, or to facilitate the unilateral annexation of such territories,” it reads.

Continue reading “Senate Dems introduce amendment that would block Israel from using U.S. funds for annexation”